[Air-L] Open-What?

Jimmy Wales jwales at wikia.com
Fri Feb 8 19:37:36 PST 2008

Barry Wellman wrote:
> 1. Evil senior professors have more -- rather than less -- scope to
> publish where they want. So they don't have a vested interest in
> squelching journals. I don't think somewhat paranoid discussion about what
> evil senior professors want and do helps analysis.

I think that's right.  People with established reputations have low 
switching costs.  Young academics may feel forced to go the traditional 

> 2. Printing and mailing costs are not the only costs of journals.

Very true, and I think we can think seriously about a wide variety of 
ways that technology can radically alter the cost structure of high 
quality journal production in ways beyond simply doing away with 
printing and mailing costs.

> 3. The real problem is readers need filtering. Not eveyone wants to read
> everything. Journals serve as a filtering mechanism. Sometimes they make
> mistakes, but as a frequent editor, I am usually gladdened by the rough
> consensus among reviewers. As someone who has solicited pieces from
> all-comers and then filtered for publication, I know how much is not ready
> for prime time. Do you, as a reader, want to wade through this? I am not
> talking about genre, theory, qual vs quant, or stuff like that. I am
> talking about quality level.
> 4. Refereeing also serves a mentoring function. Not everyone was lucky
> enough to be mentored at a good university by a caring advisor or three.
> Moreover, I've had the experience of turning down a paper written by
> someone at a great university. "How dare you?" they basically asked. We
> explained why, and with luck, they learned something. One of the unsung
> benefits of refereeing is having some folks take a careful look at what
> you wrote and give you feedback

I don't think the question of open access has anything at all to do with 
eliminating either filtering or mentoring.  Why should it?

> 5. I was at a conference last week at which a frequent blogger was often
> quoted as the authority, although I think this blogger has had at most one
> refereed article published. "Have you checked on the validity of [this
> blogger's] assertions?" I asked. "Well now, we just assumed," was the
> answer. Is this any way to build a discipline?

Is ignoring someone because they don't adhere to the antiquated rituals 
any way to build a discipline?

> 6. So the real question is Open What?

If you don't know the definitions of what open access means, perhaps you 
should go learn about it.

> JCMC avoids printing and mailing,
> but is still a refereed journal -- of high quality. That is quite
> different than the anything goes model. Of course, there are variations in
> that. I tend to put on my web page serious conference papers and even
> recently, developed ppts. One of my mentors, by contrast, will only put up
> articles a decent interval after they have been published. "I like to know
> that I am right when I go public with something."
> 7. I'd love to see more journals and other venues. But the day a journal
> abandons the refereeing process, is probably the day I will stop reading
> it.

It's sad that the open access movement has not yet done a good enough 
job in educating people.  Because obviously you have absolutely zero 
concept of what we are talking about.


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